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May 29, 2016 / 21 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘CEO’

My Beef With Chick-fil-A

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Many people have a problem with the Chick-fil-A chain of chicken restaurants. Universities have asked it to leave campus cafeterias and mayors have tried to ban it from their cities. The Jewish mayor of Chicago summed up his displeasure by saying “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values.”

Frankly, I have had my own problem with the company for years. My family and I are in the beef business. Since my great-grandfather founded a kosher beef business in Galveston, Texas in 1910, our family has prided itself on the fine red beef products it provides clients, so much so that we wonder why anyone would choose a pack of pale-yellow, skin-covered drumsticks over a delicately trimmed, gently tied, 21-day dry-aged USDA Choice corn-fed standing rib roast.

I have no problem with Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s recent comments about gay marriage. As a guest on “The Ken Coleman Show” he said, “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’ ”

As a religious man, Cathy is entitled to offer his traditional Judeo-Christian perspective to listeners of the religiously sensitive radio station on which he made his comments. I am truly OK – inspired, even – with his championing the moral foundation of marriage between a man and woman that has done our American civilization good for 236 years.

But I am upset – unforgiving – about Chick-fil-A billboard advertisements that feature good-looking cows imploring impressionable consumers to eat chicken instead of beef.

I can handle criticism of our beef products. One doesn’t spend his days dealing with New York butchers and expect to receive rosy-red compliments. But clever ads that imply it is more humane to eat chicken and forgo beef cross the line and are both offensive and wrong.

Adding misinformation to misdeed, the advertising campaign uses Holstein cattle. By all accounts, Holsteins are raised to produce milk, not meat. It is a matter of economics: a milk-producing Holstein is worth much more than a fleish-toting Angus. So images of cute looking Holsteins with paintbrushes stuck between their split hooves beseeching consumers to spare the cow and roast the chicken may play well on emotions but are factually and demonstratively untrue.

According to the Torah, God allows humans to consume animals for the sake of nourishment and prosperity. He does not allow the killing of animals for sport. For more than 3,000 years Jewish law has required animals to be treated well during their lives (an owner, for example, must feed his animals before he can feed himself) and, when the time comes, to be slaughtered in a swift and near-painless manner by a man of faith and spiritual sensitivity.

Jewish law further requires us to engage in the laborious and expensive process of removing large veins from the carcass and soaking, salting and rinsing the meat in an effort to remove as much animal blood as possible. Blood is the life force of the animal.

Respecting the sanctity of life, we “despiritualize” the carcass before consuming it. While recognizing the higher role, purpose and inherent supremacy of human life, we learn that all life should be respected.

Notwithstanding my unresolved beef with Chick-fil-A, I think CEO Cathy is a remarkable man. He has made respect for religion a hallmark of his company, ensuring that all 1,614 branches are closed on Sundays, allowing employees to pray and spend time with their families on their Sabbath.

As a practicing Jew, I keep the laws of kashrus. My family has never eaten at Chick-fil-A. For that matter, we have never eaten at Denny’s or Chili’s. The only time I have ever gone to McDonalds was at Dallas Fort Worth Airport when I bought a cup of coffee before an early morning flight.

But now, for the very first time in my life, I patronized Chick-fil-A. I bought a $50 gift card. I will give it to my postal carrier in appreciation of a job well done. I chose Chick-fil-A over other retailers because when the media and left-leaning politicians are calling for the downfall of a man who speaks his heart and expresses what is good for humanity, it is time for all those who share Judeo-Christian values to stand up and be counted.

Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt

Yishai Interviews Russell Robinson, CEO of JNF

Friday, August 24th, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Russell Robinson, the Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish National Fund, joins Yishai. Together they discuss the difference between Jews living in Israel and those living in the United States and how important it is to make Israel appealing for all Jews.  They move to talk about how JNF helps give North American Jews a voice in Israel and Robinson outlines the various projects that the JNF are involved in including projects in the Negev and also in the Galilee.  They end the segment by discussing those that perform fire watches on the JNF forests planted around Israel and how their involvement in this program is creates proud, Zionist, Jews.
Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Moshe Herman

I Am Haredi

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

I am haredi. I was born in Brooklyn, went to mainstream haredi elementary and high schools, spent two years in Mir Yerushalayim and attended kollel at Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, New Jersey. I wear a black hat on Shabbos and dark pants and a white shirt much of the week. My yarmulke is large, black and velvet, and being a frum and inspired Jew is my most basic self-definition, on par with being human and male.

Am I haredi? I believe in the utter supremacy of Torah wisdom to secular knowledge. But I also believe one can see Hashem through analysis of the physical world and that many committed Jews who engage the sciences have a richer appreciation of Hashem because of it.

Am I haredi? I believe Torah study is a most worthy pursuit and the community should support and lionize scholars whose wisdom is clear and vision is pure. Writing sefarim, debating sevaros, and forging new paths in Torah is an effort worthy of a significant portion of our charitable dollars.

Am I haredi? I learned in kollel for four years and am now in the business world. Having observed and experienced the high cost of raising a large frum family and the gargantuan, often futile effort to attain those funds without a secular education, I am no longer sure that open-ended kollel-for-the-masses is a good idea. While kollel-for-all was critical in establishing a Torah society in the late 20th century, the second decade of the 21st century may be a time to reevaluate the socio-economic ramifications of thousands of men unable to support their families with dignity.

Am I haredi? I respond with disdain when some Orthodox leaders respond to theological challenges with nuance and apologetics rather than passion and conviction. We are blessed to live in a nation whose heartland craves traditional values. We are the Judeo rock of the Judeo-Christian bedrock of American civilization and should be proud to explain our beliefs and practices to those who question them. And I respond with disgust when some of my coreligionists defend observant Jews who knowingly bend the rules and break the law, bringing dishonor to our camp and disrepute to our mission.

Am I haredi? I like to read about current events and am fascinated by the interplay of religion and politics in America. I believe we should be involved in the political process as informed, concerned citizens with traditional values, not merely as a voting bloc looking for its share of the pie.

Am I haredi? I believe in the passionate worship of Hashem and that keeping of every nuance of halacha is our path to a relationship with the Creator. I believe intense Torah study can bring one to a closer relationship with God and we are most encouraged and inspired when we seek the advice and blessing of pious rabbis. I treasure my few conversations with HaRav Nosson Zvi Finkel, zt”l, the Mir rosh yeshiva, when I studied in his yeshiva. His was a purity you could see, a connection you could touch.

Am I haredi? I cut a deep line between Judaism and the culture that surrounds it, even if some of my brethren cannot. I regard most issues of dress, attitude and religious emphasis as the result of history and personality, not values and principles.

Am I haredi? I am embarrassed when some of my brethren don’t act appropriately in the larger society. I know they are merely extending the culture that works in their neighborhoods to the larger world as they pass through it. And I understand they are intelligent, kind people who are ignorant of the mores of American society. But I am embarrassed nonetheless.

Am I haredi? I believe many non-Jews have a relationship with God that is worthy of respect and encouragement.

Am I haredi? I believe that while the haredi world has become larger over the past few decades, much of that growth has been in nuance, not diversity. I wish there were less uniformity; it would keep our most creative youth more engaged.

Am I haredi? I believe the trend in our community toward sameness of dress and greater insularity was not a decision consciously made, but the result of the blending of the yeshiva and chassidic communities in the same neighborhoods. When you daven in the same shteibels and use the same mikvehs, you take on the tendencies of the other.

Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt

Sheldon Adelson’s Umbrella

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Sheldon Adelson is again under attack in the media. This time the billionaire is being criticized for his effort to target Jewish voters in swing states including Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Why are the media so infatuated with an established self-made man who is doing what any active political advocate does – educating voters to see his point of view?

In today’s world, money affects politics on both the left and the right. It happens all over the world, not just in the United States, and maybe, just maybe, liberals are nervous because finally there’s someone on the right standing up to them with the force to be heard.

Like many Jews, Adelson votes on a variety of issues, not just Israel. He grew up with modest means as the son of immigrants. He dropped out of City College of New York and built a successful business. As his wealth increased, he turned to the Republican Party after realizing it was not fair to pay a higher percentage of taxes just because he worked to become a success.

I see it as he does. I am a product of the New York City public school system, have worked hard for my money and, according to government classifications, am “rich.” But I have also made many sacrifices to get where I am.

Adelson is surely reflective of changing Jewish demographics that show the Jewish community becoming more observant and traditional. He is reflective of a Jewish community that feels government is putting more strain on the hardworking entrepreneur. Government, local and national, is taxing energetic people who work every day to create opportunities for themselves and others.

Much of the mainstream media’s fascination with Adelson stems from the fact that he is a rarity – a tough Jew, a “Republican Conservative” putting his money where his mouth is, standing up and saying, “I am Jewish, proud and don’t give a damn what anyone has to say about it.”

It is refreshing and great to see. Many in the media are so accustomed to Jewish influence on the left that Adelson surprises and even frightens them.

Adelson is simply doing what his longtime friend Fred Zeidman said months ago he would: “…devote his energy and money to the overriding issue, which is beating Barack Obama.”

In a world where so many wealthy Jews follow the “Torah of Liberalism,” as Norman Podhoretz calls it, what is better than a man working for a strong America as he believes it should be? Adelson and others, like Dr. Irving Moskowitz, are working to make the world better for all who believe in an economically, physically and intellectually strong America – and using their money to help get the message out.

Every other socioeconomic group in the country moved rightward as their socioeconomic position improved – every group but the Jews. As the late Milton Himmelfarb wrote many years ago, “Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans.” Himmelfarb meant that Jews earn like the rich establishment but vote like poor recent immigrants. This too will change.

The philosopher Max Nordau has been quoted as telling the Jewish leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky that “the Jew learns not by way of reason, but from catastrophes. He won’t buy an umbrella merely because he sees clouds in the sky. He waits until he is drenched and catches pneumonia.”

America is certainly in a catastrophic situation and it is pouring rain. Sheldon Adelson should be lauded for doing what he is doing.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, one of the largest U.S. PR agencies. He is an active Jewish philanthropist via the Ronn Torossian Foundation.

Ronn Torossian

Colorado Shooter Was Camp Counselor for Jewish Big Brothers and Sisters

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

James Holmes, the Colorado graduate student who is suspected of killing 12 moviegoers and wounding 58 others on Friday during the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises,”  worked as a camp counselor in Los Angeles County in 2008 that was run by Jewish Big Brothers and Sisters (JBBBS), the group’s CEO told NBC4 on Saturday.

James Holmes, 24, worked as cabin counselor at Camp Max Straus in the summer of 2008, according to Randy Schwab, the CEO of Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Schwab’s statement read: “It is with shock and sorrow that we learned of the incident in Aurora. Our hearts and prayers go out to all the families and friends of those involved in this horrible tragedy. On behalf of Camp Max Straus I want to offer our deepest sympathies and condolences.”

Schwab said that, as cabin counselor, Holmes was in charge of the care and guidance of about 10 children. His role was to ensure that the children had a “wonderful camp experience.”

According to Schwab, Holmes helped the children in his care “learn confidence, self esteem and how to work in small teams to effect positive outcomes.”

His statement continued: “These skills are learned through activities such as archery, horseback riding, swimming, art, sports and high ropes course.”

Camp Max Straus is a nonsectarian program for children ages 7-14, which is run by Jewish Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Los Angeles.

Holmes is not Jewish.

Tibbi Singer

The Scream

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

“The Scream,” a unique and evocative painting by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944), sold recently at Sotheby’s for nearly $120,000,000. The price was attributed to its being the last of four editions still in private hands and the fact that it has been an icon of Western culture for over a century. The colors are vivid, the mood is stark, and the being on the bridge is overwhelmed by his surroundings. It captures a man alone in a world awry.

In explaining the experience he sought to portray, Munch wrote: “I was walking down the road with two friends when the sun set; suddenly, the sky turned red as blood. I stopped and leaned against the fence, feeling unspeakably tired. Tongues of fire and blood stretched over the bluish black fjord. My friends went on walking, while I lagged behind shivering with fear. Then I heard the enormous, infinite scream of nature.”

Munch was a secular man, not one easily led to converse with greater forces. He blamed his father’s obsessive religious practice for bequeathing him the seeds of psycosis. While historians attest that Munch did in fact touch madness, the popularity of his work and the duration of his prominence show that he also touched, through the medium of his art, a reality that underlies the human experience.

Munch was on a bridge with nowhere to turn. His hands were glued to the sides of his face, and he shouted a primal scream.

Judaism speaks to Munch’s experience. In Hebrew, the word for scream is “tze’akah.” It is used to convey the Jews’ calling out to God from slavery in Egypt – “And the Jews cried to God from their work” (Exodus 2:2).

In his classic philosophical work Gates of Prayer, Rabbi Shimshon Pincus explains that a scream is in fact a form of supplication. Prayer, he notes, is intensely primal and extensively faceted. Different words capture the different experiences – from fear to hope, confusion to inspiration – that lead one to reach out to the Almighty. A scream is a call to God from a world gone mad. It is the point where pain and fear grow so great that one cannot utter words to articulate the emotion within; all one can do is release a scream that courses through the veins and emits from the gut.

The Jews in Egypt were so aggrieved and afflicted that they could only scream. And the Torah says God listened to their screams and their ultimate redemption was set in motion.

In Jewish tradition, man calls to God and nature does, too. “The heavens declare the glory of God,” says the Psalmist, “and the firmament proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). I remember one particular night when I was a rabbinical student in Lakewood, New Jersey. It was late and I was walking from the study hall to the dormitory. The world was calm, the earth peaceful. I could sense, through my very being, creation singing to God.

I have no doubt that what I heard paralleled Munch’s experience but that my Jewish processor interpreted the signals in a very different way.

Munch and I could not be more dissimilar. He was a talented artist and I am a hard working meat purveyor. He lived a solitary life raising neither children not students, and I am blessedly married and the father of six children.

We define life differently, too. As his end came near, Munch wrote, “From my rotting body flowers shall grow, and I am in them and that is eternity.” As a believing Jew I would have said, “From my rotting body my soul will ascend, to achieve closeness to the Perfection it has always pursued, and that is eternity.”

Yet, in a way, I closely identify with Munch. I too see a world aflame. I peer out of the walls of my insular Orthodox Jewish community and see a secular culture in which the rich and pretty are portrayed as cultural authorities, and Jewish and Christian leaders are cut down to size.

I see a world in which families inspired by Judeo-Christian values are presented as born into prejudicial sin, and where the nemesis of family, secular feminism, is given award and acclaim even though it only respects women when they acquire masculine traits – hardly a celebration of femininity. It weakens the mind and troubles the spirit.

Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt

What In Obama’s Record On Israel Does Romney Oppose?

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Gov. Mitt Romney has made some outrageous comments and taken some extreme positions in this presidential campaign. But few, if any, are more baffling than his latest statement on his plans for the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Asked what he would do to strengthen America’s alliance with Israel, he said, “by and large, you can just look at the things the president has done and do the opposite.”

With this statement, given via video conference to the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, Romney clearly found a cheap applause line for a conservative audience.

Yet it also begs a few questions: What does he mean when he says he’ll “do the opposite”? Where, exactly, will he change course? What in President Obama’s strong pro-Israel record does the presumptive Republican nominee oppose?

Romney’s foray into foreign affairs may make for a good sound bite, but it is no substitute for sound policy. It reflects one of two options: Either he is willfully ignorant of the president’s record, or he’s planning to drive the U.S.-Israel partnership in reverse and undermine the security of the Jewish state.

Let’s consider the facts.

President Obama has restored and increased Israel’s qualitative military edge, which eroded under his Republican predecessor. He has provided record levels of aid for Israel’s security and supplemented U.S. assistance with more than $1 billion in new funds for the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow missile defense systems. He has committed American troops to the largest-ever joint military exercises with their IDF counterparts.

The president has said repeatedly that Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself, from any threat. Under his leadership, the United States is ensuring Israel has the means to do so.

It’s no wonder that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said he “can hardly remember a better period of…American support and cooperation and similar strategic understanding of events around us than what we have right now.”

And Mitt Romney wants to do the opposite?

In the diplomatic realm, the Obama administration has voted with Israel’s interests 100 percent of the time at the United Nations. It has consistently defended Israel at the UN and in other international forums. It has boycotted the Durban conferences – because America knows that Zionism is not racism.

After President Obama’s impassioned speech in defense of Israel at the UN last fall, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the president could wear his actions as a “badge of honor.”

And, again, Mitt Romney wants to do the opposite?

President Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security has shined brightest on one of the greatest challenges to regional and global security today: the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. The president knows that preventing a nuclear Iran is not only in Israel’s interests, it’s in our own national security interests.

That’s why he has imposed and implemented the most comprehensive sanctions regime against Iran in history – with more on the way. That’s why he built an international coalition dedicated to keeping the bomb out of Iranian hands. That’s why the president has promised to take no options off the table to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons – whether diplomatic, economic, political or even military.

The president has made clear that containment is not an option, that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, and that the United States will continue to act on its promises. This president means what he says. He backs words with deeds. He does not bluff.

Indeed, just last week, Israeli President Shimon Peres – honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian honor – said, “Mr. President, you have pledged a lasting friendship for Israel. You stated that Israel’s security is sacrosanct. So you pledged. So you acted. So you’re acting – as a great leader, as a genuine friend.”

All this, and Mitt Romney still wants to do the opposite?

There are plenty of areas of disagreement between the president and Gov. Romney, and the distinctions will certainly stand front and center from now until Election Day in November. The American people will have a clear choice. Part of that choice will be between a president who has strengthened and solidified Israel’s security and a candidate pledging to “do the opposite.”

David A. Harris

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/what-in-obamas-record-on-israel-does-romney-oppose/2012/06/27/

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